Holding on to hobbies

I have a hard time letting physical things go. This isn’t new, I’ve always been this way. It is, however, something that I have to address as we get ready to move again, and it’s hard. During Saturday’s workshop, we talked about letting go of attachment as a practice for freeing ourselves from objects, which was a valuable lesson. But there is a part of the process that I’m still having a hard time applying it to: some of the hardest things to part with are the ones that support our creative pursuits.

Beyond the fact that we are human, and therefore creative, Carlos and I are both people who need to and thrive upon doing creative work. This takes many forms for us, some of which come with a lot of equipment. What do we do about that? How do we foster our creativity on the road without overburdening ourselves with art supplies?

I’m seriously considering how much yarn will be appropriate to vacuum-pack and take with us while we’re traveling. Obviously I can’t be without yarn, right? Even though I’ve only finished something like 3 projects in over a year? There are so many babies coming this year! And there are some who’ve been here a while, but I haven’t gotten a chance to meet them yet. Those kiddos all warrant knitting!

I have the same thought about Carlos’s paints, although ultimately that’s his call to make, not mine. We are creative people, and it’s vital for us to have a creative outlet. How much is enough to take with us, and how much is too much?

As we’re streamlining clothes and kitchen supplies, the calls are easy to make. Doesn’t really fit anymore? Out it goes. In bad shape? Ditto, gone. Beloved, but not especially useful? To storage! It’s harder to make the distinctions with the tools for our creative pursuits, though. There are some things that will clearly not make the cut, but we can’t really apply the same criteria as we do for other tools. It’s true that I have yarn that’s been sitting for more than a year, untouched except to make the move, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t still have plans for it. I have admittedly been bad about applying time to knitting while we’ve been in Canada, but I have some legitimate excuses, all directly related to our kiddo. I know plenty of people who can breast feed and knit at the same time, but I am not one of them, especially now that RJ is so interested in touching everything. But even so, knitting has been with me a long time, and it would be unrealistic and unreasonable to try to move to the next stage of my life without it.


There are things that will definitely come with us: the ukulele, some (but not all the) yarn, probably some felt, hand sewing notions (as much for utility as pleasure). But what about the rest of it? The sewing machine, the screen printing gear, the paints and plaster and woodworking tools and brewing equipment. So, yeah, we have a lot of hobbies, I guess, and that doesn’t even include the ones that don’t fall under the ‘creative’ umbrella. They all have gear, and it all has to go, well, somewhere.

What would you do? How would you choose?

Great patterns for beginning knitters

I still have the very first thing I ever knit. It’s a light blue scarf in a thick-and-thin acrylic yarn. I can’t bring myself to part with it, despite the fact that I haven’t worn it in years. It’s… close to my heart as a crafter, even though it’s not so cute and doesn’t fit with the style that I’ve developed over the years. (It’s in the back of my closet, and I’m not going to dig it out for a photo right now.)

Luckily for knitters starting out today (as opposed to the dark ages of the last century), there are lots of really cute and accessible patterns out there, and they can be found without delving deep into the bowels of about.com.*

Ready to start knitting? Here are some super cute ideas for someone awesome in your life (like you!).

Cowls! They’re warm, and trendy!

Bandana cowl! Love the kerchief shape on this one!
A classic loop cowl in an interesting pattern!
A super chunky loop. Dramatic! And a quick knit, on big needles.

Super cute hats for adult ladies!

Sharp-looking fan detail! I’ve seen this hat around for a while, definitely love the asymmetrical detail.
Assymetrical contrast spiral. This is my favorite pattern in the new Knitty
Slouchy welted beanie The slouchy hat is not my favorite, but I might make an exception for this one!

Scarves! In case a cowl isn’t quite your thing!

A triangle scarf with buttons! I apologize in advance for the font over there. The pattern is cute, I swear.
A sharp triangle! I do so love the kerchief-scarf crossover.
Diagonal sections show off a self-striping yarn! This pattern is a beginner’s favorite recommended by one of my favorite knitters.

You’ll notice they tend to be knits modeled by women, or somewhat girly. Don’t worry! There are lots of awesome knits out there for the non-girly as well. Explore! And of course, if you need a hand, I’m here to help!

*I haven’t been to About in a long, long time, but it was the bridge that got me from my first project into more adventurous territory. Ah, nostalgia…

Give the Gift of Skill

I was going to write you a lovely blog post about a very pretty caramel apple pie. It was going to be so awesome! Except, the pie isn’t pretty (gasp!), and every step of it has been frustrating, for no good reason. I am not feeling the love for that pie, just this moment.

Instead, let’s take a moment and remember the words of the Starks: Winter is coming. (Yes, we got sucked into Game of Thrones. I will not apologize, nor spoil.) You know what that means, right? Knitting time! Pie making time! And not just for me! It’s also Christmas gift time!

I’m not going to knit you any Christmas gifts. But you know what would be an awesome gift? Skills! Imagine all the guilt you could apply toward getting handknits if you bought your favorite crafty person some knitting instruction!

For a returning knitter with a pattern in mind, 2 hours is a really reasonable amount of time to get reacquainted with their needles and brush up on knitting terminology. An adept (read: otherwise somewhat craftyish) beginning knitter can get a good start on their way in the same amount of time, though they won’t get quite as far (probably, depending on the knitter. YMMV, y’know).

As I’m sure you won’t be surprised to learn, I’m a huge fan of gifts that keep giving (also: gifts I can eat. unrelated.). That whole “teach a man to fish” thing, you know. And just think of the adorableness that you’ll get next year as a thank-you!


I have kind of a bad history with knitting sweaters. I knit my mom a sweater once, and it took me three years. Not because any part of the knitting was hard (although I did learn some cool things in the process), but because I would set it down, pick something else up, and entirely forget about it. And, the first two times I finished it, it wasn’t right. I am a terrible daughter. (The sweater I knit my dad didn’t take that long, but was also several sizes too small. Luckily for us both, bike commuting solved that problem for me!)

When I agreed to knit Mr. Pie a sweater, I did so with the intention of not making either of those mistakes. And, after some pre-knitting procrastination, we seem to be moving along at a pleasant clip.

It’s not that pink. It does have that much dog hair on it.

Thanks to a weekend head cold, Season One of Mad Men, and many pots of hot toddies, Mr. Pie’s sweater has a body! I have to say, I don’t usually love garter stitch, but it’s pretty much delighting me right now.

The next step is to start the sleeves, which will require some fiddly math, I think. For how simple the sweater turns out in the end, there’s a lot of math that goes into it. I am totally in love with it.

To ensure that I didn’t start myself yet another sweater that would languish half-finished in the knitting bag somewhere until I didn’t want it anymore, I picked something that is both practical and which I desperately need. Every day I say, “I want to be wearing my sweater.” I’m thinking it right now.

Mine has passed its complicated knitting (no math required there), and may be taking a time out for a moment while I decide whether I want to knit its sleeves right now also. I have actually stuck to the pattern so far, but my plan originally was to modify the cardigan fronts a little, and I think I want to be able to try it on as I go. Also, it’s kind of boring right now. We’ll see.

Sick Day

I should be making pie right now, but instead I am drinking Carlos’s Wonder-Cure-All Tea, a concoction that I currently hate to the core of my being. Hate it though I do, I’m drinking it in hopes that it’ll purge me of whatever ick is making me sleep 14 hours a day. Yay, sleep!

But there is no rest for the self-employed, so I’ve been working on The Marriage Sweaters!

Marriage Sweater The First, Jared Flood’s Adult Tomten:
Marriage sweater the first
Tomten Sweater hem

Marriage Sweater The Second, Heather Zoppetti’s Dahlia Cardigan:

Dahlia Seed stitch edging

I am indescribably smitten with the seed stitch edging on the Dahlia cardigan. It is worlds away from the seed stitch that made up my very first scarf. So crisp, so pretty. I have yet to successfully photograph it to its full glory, but I promise you, I’ll keep trying.

Also on the agenda? New brake levers for my bike!

Oh, look, more handknits, imagine that.

Not pictured: addressing the disaster that my kitchen has become, and the mountain of laundry taking over my closet. Tomorrow: Back to pie!

(In case you’re curious, Wonder-cure-all is a couple inches of fresh ginger, grated or sliced, about half a lemon, honey, and cayenne pepper. Guess which part of it I’m grumpy about?)